Monday, 3 March 2014

What The Writer Knows, The Reader Must Know – The Importance of Beta Readers

Sometimes I wish I could download my favourite authors’ brains. Imagine all the extra things they’d know about my favourite stories, my favourite characters. Imagine suddenly understanding all the subplots and undercurrents I had missed because I’d been too thick. It’s one of the reasons why I became a writer in the first place, because I know everything about my world and characters, everything said out loud or implied, I understand the reason behind every action, the way the world operates, why I put things in order A rather than order XXX. It’s an additional, enriching experience you can’t get just being the reader. Of course, you being the only person who knows how your brain puts things together can be a massive problem. Because you don’t realise that you haven’t put the connections in your head, onto paper.

A writer may know everything, but if what you know doesn’t appear on the page, then how is the reader going to follow your logic? What the writer knows, the reader must know, and sometimes it’s hard to separate what you’ve actually said in black and white from what your brain is filling in for you. The problem is that unless these gaps in knowledge are pointed out to you, it is almost impossible to see them yourself. You know too much. It’s the one time where being a know-it-all is not in your favour. Which is why it is essential that you pry loose your death grip on your manuscript, and hand it to someone else to read. This someone else is called your Beta Reader. Beta Readers are an essential part of any editorial journey, they spot the gaps, they make you think about why you made something the way you did, and they help you turn your book from a pretty, fuzzy picture into a clear photograph.

In this post I’m going to go through how to pick and train a Beta Reader to give you the feedback you need, and some of the most common ‘holes’ writers have lurking in their drafts (which you still probably won’t be able to find in your own work, but at least you know what they are!).

How To Pick A Beta Reader

It’s hard to let go of your baby, so picking a helpful Beta Reader is key. You want someone who doesn’t just tell you it’s great, you need someone who is constructive and is going to tell you what they don’t understand or like. Generally you should send it to three or four Beta Readers so that you know the comments are balanced. So what should you look for in a Beta Reader?
  • Someone who is NOT part of your family. Unless they are an editor, they won’t be objective.
  • Pick someone you know is going to be objective and critical (but not try to tear you a new one). This person can be a friend, but again they have to be a friend who likes what you write and isn’t afraid to tell you what they think. If they come back to you with no comments on things to change, that does not mean you are the most awesome writer on the planet, it means you picked the wrong person to read. Pass Go, try again.
  • In saying that you are not after someone that will tell you are a horrible writer, and that what you made that character do is stupid. They should not be attacking you as the writer, they should be dissecting the story and offering thoughts as to how things can be remedied.
  • They must read voraciously in your genre. If they don’t understand the basic concepts of mages, witchcraft, wizards, dragons, elves, orcs, or flying houses in the sky, then it’s best you don’t give that person your manuscript about a fantastical floating island where people fight to the death on Magic Carpets. They’re not going to get it.
  • Someone who has the time and is a quick reader. You may have someone who is perfect, but if they don’t have the time to read and critique, or they take two months to read one book, then they aren’t going to be your best pick. 


How To Train A Beta Reader

Most people you find to read your manuscript aren’t going to be trained in the art of Beta Reading. Therefore giving them guidelines will help you get what you need, and will give them an idea of what they’re looking for. There are also certain tricks that will make it easier for you to get specific feedback rather than general feedback:
·       Provide the manuscript (MS) to them in Word format. You want them to make notes exactly where the confusion arose and providing them with your MS in PDF or ebook formats will not allow them to do it easily (or you to access the comments easily). Doing it direct into the word processor is essential.
·       Get your Beta to use Track Changes in Word so that you can see where their questions/comments are.
·       You want them to make specific and overview comments:
-          Overview comments: When they finish the novel you want them to give you an overall impression of it. Key things to ask would be: how did you feel at the end? Was there any point where you think things went too slow or didn’t fit with the rest? Are there sections you would switch the order of, or extra scenes you wish were included? Were the character’s personalities clear? If not, which ones and what do you think the author was trying to make them like? Did you understand each main character’s motivation/intentions?
-          Specific Comments: You want them to make comments within the text when: they don’t understand something; they need more background information; when you have been contradictory; when they want to know why a character did a particular thing (this means you haven’t conveyed their motivations clearly enough); they had to read a line more than once to understand what you were saying (means your sentence is awkward/convoluted and needs rephrasing); when something seems too easy/glossed over/coincidental.
·       If your Beta Reader sees a typo or tense change let them know they are free to mark it, however, proof reading is not the main job of a Beta. You need to stress that their main focus should be the overview and specific comments.
·       Get them to provide examples to help illustrate their point, or have them offer suggestions as to what they think might fix it. Being told something needs to be changed but not how can be infuriating for you and anti-productive.

Now that you have some idea of what you are looking for in a Beta Reader, and in turn what your Beta should be looking for in your manuscript, let’s move onto some of the common ‘holes’ in a manuscript that leave a reader scratching their head.

Common ‘Holes’

Not Showing Character Motivation

Readers won’t just take things on faith, they need reasons, motivation and back story. We have the ‘Show don’t tell’ mantra drilled into us so often that sometimes we go too far the other way. Body language is sometimes not enough, a shrug for one character may mean ‘meh’ where as a shrug for another character may mean ‘I’m going to hide in a closet and scare you when you sleep’. In the examples below you see the need not only to expand upon body language, but also to give background information to a character’s reaction.

Accenting the ‘dangerous’ she looked him straight in the eye. She stared him down for several seconds. He swallowed, then his shoulders slumped.
“All right,” he said resigned.
~Priori – The Power Within - Draft
Why does he swallow? Is he afraid of her or uneasy about her? That is the implication.
~Isobelle Carmody
Accenting the ‘dangerous’ she looked him straight in the eye.
He stared her down for several seconds then swallowed, his shoulders slumping. She was just too unpredictable. “Alright.”
~Rewrite

Never before had a building so fascinated my attention.
~Priori – The Power Within - Draft

Because … it was under the earth? Because it was so different to anything she had seen on the surface? Because she knows what it contains? Because it does not look as she imagined? Because of its complexity?
~Isobelle Carmody

Never before had a building so fascinated my attention, a new complexity revealing itself in every pass.
~Rewrite

Contradictions

It’s inevitable, when writing a 80,000 word MS over the course of twelve months, that you are going to forget some vital piece of character background or minor superpower that you bestowed on your hero. In Priori, one of Beverly’s minor gifts, being able to talk to animals, became not so minor when she is attacked by a ‘Razorfin’ (yes, it’s just an obnoxious name for ‘Shark)’. In the original draft I was so caught up in creating drama that I conveniently ignored the fact that she should have been able to talk to said razorfin about not eating her. An entire scene suddenly needed rethinking when Isobelle said:

Can’t she talk to animals because of the Priori?
~Isobelle Carmody

Bugger. Yes. Back to the drawing board.

You’ve Only Done Vague World Building

When we originally write a story we are just trying to get events down on a page, like a sculpture attacking a piece of marble with a jackhammer. The subtlety comes later in revision, and with each editing pass the holes get smaller. But sometimes there is a throwaway line that trips up a reader, or an inconsistency that they jump on about the history of your world that you haven’t explicitly described. The first example, the throwaway line is normally an easy fix, but the second example requires more thought. With histories you have to be careful not to info-dump on your readers and will need to weave and hint at the history throughout your novel:

A look of pure greed lit the unkempt faces of the two soldiers, for a rich reward came with our capture.
~Priori – The Power Within – Draft

What is the reward for?  People trying to escape the testing or her specifically (the host)? In which case does the soldier know of the Priori/ her power? I think he needs to say something more specific that makes it clear the reward is for her specifically.
~Isobelle Carmody

My first testing was on my twelfth birthday and since then I have had many more, too many to count. Once a month a loud knock on the door signals their presence as the Ruhle army heft a heavy machine into the house.
~Priori – The Power Within - Draft
Why are children being tested over and over? Surely a single test would reveal that a child is not the Host, unless they know of the stolen sholac and guess its use, or unless the power will enter only when it chooses, so kids have to be tested over and over.
~Isobelle Carmody
I knew why the children were continually tested, but to show that required the dropping of clues as well as the invention of an entirely new scene. I hadn’t thought the information mattered, but clearly for a reader to trust me as a storyteller they had to know I wasn’t just ‘inventing’ plot points. Ironic.

Shit Doesn’t Just Happen, People Discuss Things

At times you just want to rush through all the boring ‘admin’ scenes to get to the action. It’s all well and good that you know this has all gone on, but for a reader, not seeing a discussion and just having things ‘work out’ is a little convenient, as you can see in Isobelle’s comments below.

Elitree gestured to two chutes, one for each of us. With a wave Charlie stood under his hole and disappeared.
~Priori – The Power Within - Draft

This is too expedient- the Master must say a few words. At the beginning he needs to make clear what he makes of her and what is to happen, and this should be a reminder. It is all very well that he is magic and knows all, but we don’t. We need to see that mundane natural conversation, it need not be more than the odd sentence, but make it a good sentence. For instance, he does not tell them where they are going before Charlie is dispatched.
~Isobelle Carmody

As I said, these four ‘hole’ types can be very hard to spot in your own manuscript, hence the need for a select Beta Reading Army Of Awesome. You will come back to these readers again and again as you building your writing career. Treat them well and they will be a reliable part of your editing plan in the future.


Do you have Beta Readers for your work? What do you get them to watch out for? Please let us know in the comments below.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Trust Your Reader’s Intelligence



Have you ever read a book where you have the most obvious things pointed out to you by the characters? At the very least, you wonder if the characters are a little thick, because clearly they are thinking through an obvious thing a little too hard. At the worst you can’t help but imagine the author standing over your shoulder going, “Did you get it? Did you get that part? Did you see what I did there? Are you sure? Really? Because I feel like you read that a little too quickly. I’m not quite sure that you understood that they didn’t shiver because they were cold, but because they were spppooooookkkkkedd by the ghooooooossssttttsss…”

Contrary to popular belief your readers do understand body language, they have indeed interacted with other people in their lifetime, they can understand standard emotional reactions and know that shouts are indeed loud (my biggest pet peeve about Twilight is numerous instances of ‘she shouted loudly’ and ‘whispered quietly’). I understand the compulsion of a writer to add these little bits of ‘did you get it?’ into the book. You want to make sure people understand the character’s emotional state, that they understand something sneaky has just happened, you want them to understand the layers of meaning you’ve crafted. But you can do that by choosing the right word, and then trusting your reader’s intelligence and your writing skills, rather than whacking them upside the head with a shovel full of repetitions. You want your readers to come back for a book that involves them, not spells everything out.

Below are several common ways a writer can insult a reader’s intelligence without meaning too, in some ways it’s another form of overwriting. By correcting your writing to eliminate them, you are getting your reader more involved and invested in your story.

Trust Your Readers Understand Body Language

There is no need to ‘show’ a reader your character’s emotional state and then all of the sudden panic that they are an idiot and decide to ‘tell’ them to. They’re not an idiot, if they were, they wouldn’t read your book. As Isobelle pointed out in my below example (the underlined words are the ones she deleted), you are making your reader passive by not forcing them to exercise their brain:

The grip on my weapon faltered and I almost dropped it in shock.
~Priori – The Power Within Draft

This is the sort of thing you would cut in a second draft as it is coming to a conclusion that you want your readers to come to. Always try to trust the comprehension of an audience - as a rule of thumb, if you can figure it out, so can they. The more times you make them come to a conclusion, the more involved in your story they will be. If you tell them all the conclusions, you make them passive and so their involvement in the story will be more shallow and easier to disrupt.
~Isobelle Carmody

Trust Your Readers Have The Ability To Infer Things

Readers understand that when you use certain words like ripped, or punched, or cut, that they are also going to be associated the result of those actions with pain, or destruction. They can infer this because they have felt it themselves. Stating the obvious is the best way to encourage a reader to find a way to strangle you with your own book.

“I feel dirty using this magick. People died - had it ripped from them against their will.”
~Priori – The Power Within Draft

If it was ripped from them we can assume it was against their will. This sort of mistake is fine at the first and even second draft stage, but you should be constantly watching out for it, paring back, very often overwriting will be fat with unnecessary words.
~Isobelle Carmody

“You have met the shadows?” His expression showed momentary surprise. His eyes flitted around the clearing but did not rest on those of the Brethern I could see beneath the trees. Somehow, I was the only one that could see them.
~Priori – The Power Within Draft

This is unnecessary because it is obvious- let the reader infer it from the perfectly adequate information you have given them. Every time you make your reader work for information they invest something of themselves in your story.
~Isobelle Carmody

Trust In YOUR Writing Skills

Many writers feel like they can never be as good as those that have gone before them. They don’t trust that what they are describing can come across as majestically as they imagined it. We feel like we aren’t doing it justice, and as a result we second guess ourselves, and in turn second guess the imagination of the reader, which more often than not is as imaginative as our own (particularly if you’re writing fantasy). So don’t end a beautiful description with a throwaway line like this:

My eyes devoured the sight of Creana. It was magnificent.
~Priori – The Power Within

You have shown us this beautifully. To thus conclude it weakens the text.
~Isobelle Carmody

Here is the original description she was referring to:

How I initially missed it I will never know. The gateway we had entered through was positioned directly next to the divide. Two hundred metres from the castle’s gate, the cavern’s earth ceiling ended abruptly. It was as though a hemisphere covered and protected the Academy and Creana; half the hemisphere was made of rock and formed the cavern roof over the Academy, the other half of the hemisphere was made of clear, thick glass and covered Creana in a giant glass dome. The join between the two materials was seamless.  The glass dome extended for tens of miles. Swirling and moving outside the dome was water - the sea.

“Great goddess above,” I breathed, “We are underwater.”

Within the dome lay a vast white city. Thousands of houses, buildings, turrets, towers, and parks with playgrounds and waterfalls terraced down, the number of levels too plentiful to count, following the natural fall of the deepening ocean floor. The roofs were covered with dark red tiles, and the busy main thoroughfares bore little resemblance to the quiet, dusty roads of the surface. In the middle of the city was a large, deep blue lake which overflowed at the far end. Several levels were dominated by massive pale-blue trees. The distant reaches of the town were too far away to make out details with any clarity. Alaequines, dwarfed by the landscape, flitted above the city carrying their riders to various destinations.

Writing a book is an exercise in trust. Trusting that we are good enough to get across our vision and trusting that our readers are as intelligent as we think we are.


Do you have a book that has made you mad because they keep assuming you have the brain of a llama? Please leave a comment below.

**Image licensed under Creative Commons, By Angry Dog Designs

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine's Day Ebook Special


Valentine’s day is upon us, and while I want to avoid the cheesy Hallmark card moments, I do want to spread the love. To all of you, whether you have a loved one, are single, or write poems to your pet goat on this special day I hope that this collection of funny, romantic, and sexy books from myself and 6 other authors will enrich the romance and entertain!

Each book is only $0.99!

Some of you many not know that in addition to writing Fantasy I also write chicklit/comedy. So my comedy novel set in Facebook, The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain: Photographer Extraordinaire, is going to be on special in this one day promotion along with the works of Dylan White, Missy Marciassa, Annie Jacoby, Elyse Grant, Shawn Inmon, & Susan Ann Wall. As you know I don't tend to do a lot of self-promotion on my blog, so I hope you'll indulge me for this one day special event. Then it's back into the nitty gritty of Fantasy writing!

In case you’re a bit confused about what a Facebook Novel actually is (don’t worry, you’re not the only one who’s been confused) check out a sample of my book below.

Grab a copy of these books for a loved one, or add to your own library and lose yourself in the eyes of someone dreamy and imaginary: http://www.madelinecain.com/vdaypromo/

Get these love-inspired reads for the price of a stolen kiss, for one day only!

 

EXTRACT: The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain: Photographer Extraordinaire


Mike Cain joined the group I am always tired because at night, I am a superhero and 2 other pages [Like]

Virginia Lowe Put this on your status if you know someone (or are related to someone) who suffers from a disabling defect. Living a life impacted by disability can be a demoralising one and only through awareness and understanding will they feel a true part of the wider community. 93% of people will not post this on their wall. Be part of the 7% who will and raise awareness of this widespread issue.  Posted 10 hrs ago [Comment . Like]

Isabelle Haigh is now friends with Virginia Lowe and Gayle Young.

Kathy Bloomingdale Love my sister week. If you have a sister who has made you laugh, wiped your tears, hugged you, cheered you on and kept you strong post this. Put this on your status if you have an amazing sister. Posted 50mins ago. [Comment . Like]
You and 5 other people like this.

Madeline Cain The Great joined the group It’s a ninja thing, you wouldn’t understand [Like . Join]

Madeline Cain The Great Woke up with a wet face, realised it’s just a pool of drool that accumulated during the night due to zombie-like slumber. Posted 3 hrs ago. [Comment . Like]

Tim Gleeve Put this on your status if you know someone (or are related to someone) who has been eaten by dragons. Dragons are nearly unstoppable and in case you didn’t know, they can breathe fire. 93% of people won’t copy and paste this, because they have already been eaten by dragons. The other 7% are sitting in the shower armed with fire extinguishers. Posted 7 mins ago [Comment . Like]
5 people like this.
Madeline Cain The Fantastic Dude you’re a tool. Posted 5 min ago [Comment . Like]
Kathy Bloomingdale I thought we weaned you off Dungeons and Dragons… Posted 4 min 30secs ago [Comment . Like]
Virginia Lowe OMG Tim, you’re such an arsehole! Keep your perversions to yourself. Giving one’s life to a cause is noble, and we don’t need jerks like you devaluing the struggle of others. Posted 4mins ago [Comment . Like]
Tim Gleeve But Vee, life without laughter is no life at all. And let’s face it, your activist status updates are about as depressing as an old lady who keeps cats. Someone has to put life in perspective, and only someone as awesome as me can do that. Posted 3mins ago [Comment . Like]
Virginia Lowe That’s it! You’re a monster! I am de-friending you this instant! I hope you choke on your non-vegetarian diet of beef steak! Posted 3 mins ago [Comment . Like]
Tim Gleeve Oh nooo’s. Please don’t. What am I to do? Woe is me, my world shall be full of sin without your conscience to guide me. Oh what a world!!!!!!! Posted 2mins ago [Comment . Like]
Madeline Cain The Fantastic You just couldn’t keep your big mouth closed could you Butterfly Boy? Posted 1min ago [Comment . Like]
Kathy Bloomingdale One day you’re going to get bitch slapped, and not by your toaster. Posted 50sec ago [Comment . Like]

Tim Gleeve joined the group I don’t get drunk, I get awesome! [Like . Join]

We Agreed Never To Speak Of This To Others                            [New Message]
[Back to messages. Mark as unread . Report spam . Delete]
Between Tim Gleeve, Kathy Bloomingdale and You.

Tim Gleeve 3 January 2012 at 22:00 [Report]
You guys are arseholes! You said that you would keep my …problem, to yourselves! And then Maddie put it in her blog!! WTF is wrong with you!

Madeline Cain The Fantastic 3 January 2012 at 22:35
Come on Tim, what did you expect? You were wondering around your new apartment naked, you go to retrieve your charcoal toast and get an electric shock on the end of your knob from the toaster! You can’t keep that sort of hilarity inside.

Kathy Bloomingdale 3 January 2012 at 22:40 [Report]
Then you go and do it on purpose, repeatedly, because (if we’re to believe your version of events), it feels better than any sexual experience you have ever had. Now I thought the butterfly collecting and the god awful home brew was quirky enough for a grown lad, I hadn’t realised you still haven’t matured passed ‘weird habit’ puberty.

Madeline Cain The Fantastic 3 January 2012 at 22:43
And it’s our job as your best friends to make sure you get your kicks from a nice girl and not a toaster oven. It’s our sacred covenant.

Tim Gleeve 3 January 2012 at 23:04 [Report]
What? By publically announcing it on FACEBOOK! Everyone we know, and people we don’t are hanging on your every exotic NY word Maddie! Yes it’s weird but I never meant it to be this way! I’m trying to kick the habit!

Kathy Bloomingdale 3 January 2012 at 23:08 [Report]
By ignoring the blind date I set you up on? When you show commitment to your rehabilitation we will ease up on the public hints. When you show significant improvement we will desist in our campaign and only tease you about butterflies again.

Tim Gleeve 3 January 2012 at 23:10 [Report]
Do I have a choice???? What is significant improvement?

Madeline Cain The Fantastic 3 January 2012 at 23:11
No! When you are making love to the ladies more than the toaster. That is all.

Kathy Bloomingdale 3 January 2012 at 23:11 [Report]
None what so ever :-)

Tim Gleeve 3 January 2012 at 23:14 [Report]
Don’t you smiley face me you evil wench! I hate you both. Now if you don’t mind I am going to do some damage control and reaffirm how awesome I am through my cyber platform.

Madeline Cain The Fantastic 3 January 2012 at 23:16
Just remember, we are watching you, always watching…..

[Reply . Back to Messages]


Tim Gleeve I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome I am. Posted 1hr ago [Comment . Like]
Madeline Cain The Truth Teller Dislike toaster tramp! Posted 1hr 10mins ago [Comment . Like]
Tim Gleeve Away foul fiend! Be gone! Posted 1 hr 15mins ago [Comment . Like]

Kyle Traybna Totally took the biggest dump of my life. Now eating cinnamon sugar toast, Yum! Posted 5hrs ago [Comment . Like]

Virginia Lowe Natural Lisa uses kittens as test subjects for beauty products. Don’t let one of the world’s biggest cosmetics producers profit from the suffering of these poor beasts! Join the cause and donate today! Posted 3hrs ago [Comment . Like]

Kyle Traybna Just had a shower, now settling on the couch to watch Kung Pow. Awesome! Posted 3hrs ago [Comment . Like]

Mike Cain Fake blood, not so easy to make. Posted 2hrs ago [Comment . Like]
Madeline Cain The Truth Teller Why are you making fake blood? You aren’t tying up police resources again? Remember how much trouble you got in last time? The forensics team was convinced there was a drifter in Harndorf bopping off hikers. Next time they will send you to juvie. Posted 1hr ago [Comment . Like]
Mike Cain Come on Sis, who says I can’t experiment in a little Hollywood fakery every now and then? Relax. Posted 50mins ago [Comment . Like]
Nadine Cain It’s ok honey, we gave your brother a Hollywood special effects kit for his birthday. We are watching him closely. Posted 40mins ago [Comment . Like]
Mike Cain Mum! You’re cramping my style! Go type on one of your old foggies updates. Posted 39mins ago [Comment . Like]
Mike Cain Arrrggg. Fine, thanks Mum for the awesome present. Your friends are not old foggies. Happy? Posted 20mins ago [Comment . Like]
Madeline Cain The Truth Teller Hehehe, I’m surprised Mum didn’t cut your power off then and there! Posted 10mins ago [Comment . Like]


NOTES > My Notes                  [Write a note]
The Underwear Fiasco
By Madeline Cain The Pants-less. Wednesday, 3 January 2012 at 13:00.

Ok, so I finally feel awake enough to tell you all about the trip here. Yesterday I vented and today I will bring your attention to the bad travel karma I possess. I suspect this was contracted when I attempted to and succeeded in making Mike throw up on our last road trip to Nana’s. So in the end I shall blame Mike for my bad karma, if you weren’t so annoying, I would be a better person.

As far as I can tell, international plane trips are a nightmare unless you have twelve grand to blow on a business class seat. It is an experience, ladies and gentlemen, to rough it. Or so say various religious factions who, let's face it, don't fly much. I was in what was termed hotel class. It's a fantastic five-minute walk to where I resided from the front of the airplane. You can see all the seats you’re NOT allowed to sit in.

I had picked an inauspicious day for a smooth flight. Turbulence was a very close friend on the way to NY. Every time the attendants brought out food, Turbulence would give the plane a friendly slap on the arse. Five hours into the flight you couldn’t even tempt me to eat ice-cream for fear of covering the forward three rows in vomit. In regards to the entertainment prospects it was inevitable that I be seated too far away from one screen and too close to the other. By the flight’s end I couldn’t look anywhere except up.

The man I was sitting next to was a big, fat Swedish man who literally took up half my seat with his elbow alone. This elbow poked me in the breast whenever he leant forward to eat meals he clearly could not have been hungry for. As fate would have it he didn’t speak a word of English.

“Sweden!” *Points to himself vigorously.*

“Australia,” I replied.

“Ah, Austria!”

“No. Australia. You know, Down Under? Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi? Australia.”

“Deutchland!”

“No, Aus-tra-li-a!”

“Ja ja, Deutchland!”

Sigh, “Yes, Deutchland, I’m from Austria, that’s totally why I speak English.”

Seriously, how can people not know where Australia is? We are essentially the biggest Island Nation in the world; we are the biggest country in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the biggest tourist destinations on Earth. If he was from a village in Africa, I would understand, but Sweden?? And man did he snore like a train. No sleep for seventeen hrs.

Taking the more scenic route to NY, we stopped off in Hawaii. In the old days you would just sit in a transit lounge for an hour while the plane refuelled and then reboard. But no, in this day and age, El Paranoid Americano’s have come up with a much better plan. Whether you are on American soil for 10 mins or an hour – no matter if USA is not even your destination – once you land you have to play by their rules. The entire plane was finger printed and photographed – because of course I was a terrorist. And in the hour and a half it took my plane to refuel I planned to bomb the airport, set Honolulu on fire and hijack the airplane, escaping across the border to Canada. Shit! I hope the FBI can’t search for the word terrorist and hack my fb account.

Ah whatever, anyway the conspiracy theory I like to nurse is the American Government plan to keep the entire world under surveillance. You may laugh but I've read 1984, I know how they think...

In JFK airport my security luck continued as I got patted down and bomb tested (Thank god I had my shoes cleaned after blowing up stumps on Nana’s farm!).

Outside the air was icy, the wind blowing a gale and the taxi line was LONG! The ride to Greenwich Village was uneventful (And smashed through the weekly budget!). The cabby, more concerned with staying warm that receiving a 1 dollar student tip for service, popped the boot and stared vacantly out the window. Wrestling my bulging bag, I dropped it heavily to the ground where the side pocket of my duffle promptly burst at the seams.

Next thing I knew half my supply of underwear was whipped swiftly……



If you liked that taste of Madeline Cain then grab a copy for $0.99 during this Valentine's Day special, for one day only at the link below: